If you’ve been following Fractured and SpatialOS as long as we have, then you’re probably right on top of the game’s Kickstarter launch today. If not, then now is the time to pay attention, especially if you’re a sandbox MMORPG fan. Dynamight Studios is making its pitch:
“Fractured is the first open-world sandbox MMORPG mixing action combat with fully interactable environments, appealing equally to lovers of competitive and cooperative gameplay. Jump right into the fray from day one. Defeat your enemies through your own skill and cleverness, not equipment or level. Gather resources, craft, trade and venture into legendary travels as a solitary hero, or start a settlement with your guild and grow it into the next empire.”
The game features races with significant impact on the game, an anti-grind horizontal leveling progression system (“enjoy the freedom and level playing field of a MOBA without losing the persistence and sense of progression of a real MMO”), a knowledge system, action combat, dynamic content, player cities, and a proper trading system. Oh, and did we mention it’s sci-fantasy, so there are multiple planets and ecosystems in play.
For MMO players, Improbable brought some interesting ideas to GDC this past spring. It also brought some games I wasn’t expecting, and the ones I was expecting were kind of downplayed. On the ground floor, developers from some of our favorite MMOs hadn’t heard of SpatialOS, a platform that allows games to be “bigger” by running multiple game engines in an innovative way, with a few developers being exceptions. I was set up for a meeting with Improbable CCO Bill Roper to help figure things out, but soon into our physical meeting he was pulled away and we had to follow up with emails, which rarely goes as well.
Fortunately, Roper had time to sit and chat again with me at E3. With SpatialOS’s first game out in the wild and more on the way, I felt like there was a lot Roper could explain about SpatialOS, MMOs, and Improbable’s role in it all.
Battle royale is all the rage these days, but as we’ve been covering over the last few months, the SpatialOS-based Mavericks is aiming to bring a new approach to the wildly popular new genre: by making it truly massive, which by studio Automaton’s count means 1000 players in the same persistent world.
We got hands-on with the game at GDC, however, and had a hard time seeing how 1000 people made a significant difference in the gameplay in practice. “It’s much more for the battle royale crowd than the MMO crowd,” MOP’s Andrew wrote at the time. Hopefully, the E3 demo will change our minds.
Closed beta is expected to launch in August; you can already sign up on the official site. The company will also launch its founder system later this week. The splash page for that says lootboxes aren’t on the table, but there will be what looks like an optional subscription in the form of “citizenship” that unlocks “a variety of content within the game.” Check out the new E3 trailer below.
Massively OP reader ichi_san has a burning question about the state of the industry.
“Lots of people seem to be looking for an MMO they can get into – consider the rush into Bless as an example. Lots of games are being released, but most (or even all) have some glaring issues, like pay-to-win, lockboxes, ganking, poor optimization, heavy cash shop, horrible gameplay, and so on. There’s the WoW model and other semi-successful formulas, and a lot of unexplored territory. The market seems hungry, and there is a bunch of history to build on and new territory to explore, but either gaming companies don’t understand their customers or greed/laziness/expediency get in the way, such that we see release after release that fails to scratch the itch. Am I missing something – are there fun MMOs with good graphics and fair monetization that I’m missing? Or is there a gaping hole in the MMO scene, and if so, why isn’t someone filling it?”
I’ve posed his question to the writers for their consideration in Overthinking this week. We’re long past bubble-bursting here when all of the still-major MMORPGs are four years older. What exactly are we looking at? Why is the obvious demand for MMOs not being met?
The past couple of weeks has been wild as we dispatched writers to GDC in San Francisco and PAX East in Boston to gather up and bring back everything they could on the MMORPGs large and small on the spring convention circuit. In fact, as I type this, we’ve got Brendan in Reykjavik for EVE Fanfest too! So for this week’s Overthinking, we’re rounding up our coverage and then reflecting on the best and worst as we pick out what most excites, surprises, and disappoints us: First the roundups, then our thoughts. Read on!
It’s no surprise that Ready Player One was constantly being referenced at GDC 2018, especially in VR, AR, and MMO panels. It’s not just because of the movie’s release but because the tech involved is seeing a surge of interest. That doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp, in my opinion, but it may be a thing we should start talking about.
And talking about it we did. As Bill Roper of Improbable and SpatialOS recently told me, “The next generation of online games isn’t going to behave like current-generation MMOs. […] We don’t know what a billion-person game might look like, but it’s likely to include a wide variety of playstyles, to reflect the diversity of its playerbase.” Even if you’re a cynic and don’t think SpatialOS will play any part of this future, Roper’s very much on the mark: Billion-person gaming isn’t going to be like our current MMOs.
SpatialOS: You’ve probably been seeing this name pop up more and more in the MMO sphere. Worlds Adrift, Mavericks, Fractured, Seed, MetaWorld, and Identity are just some of the titles we’ve mentioned that have sprung up to use Improbable’s platform. The company picked up more than half a billion dollars from Japanese company SoftBank, roped in MMO veteran Bill Roper, and got Jagex to announce its intention to use it in a future project. However Chronicles of Elyria recently noted it’s dropping Improbable’s baby, and both on and off the record, developers I spoke to at GDC 2018 had mixed reactions – assuming they’d even heard about SpatialOS at all.
What’s the big deal about the platform? What does it do? Why should developers care? Why should MMO players care? I attended a panel by Improbable and briefly sat down with CCO Bill Roper to try to figure it all out.
So as you may know, I’m an MMORPG guy – not really a battle royale guy. There are some cool ideas for people who like the combat of survival games turned up to 11, but that’s not my thing. I like community building, crafting, negotiating, and generally using my words to avoid direct combat. So when Automaton games announced Mavericks and said it’d be adding MMO elements to the battle royale genre, I got a bit excited. However, after having some hands-on time with the game and talking to Automaton Games’ CEO James Thompson at this year’s GDC, I’ve come to the realization that it’s much more for the battle royale crowd than the MMO crowd, and this will be especially true at launch.
Normally there’s a firm line of separation between battle royale-style multiplayer shooters and the full-fledged MMORPG, but Automaton’s Mavericks may be about to change all of that.
The online tactical shooter has a couple of advantages that may set it apart and above its competition when it comes out this year. For starters, it’s using the Cryengine to create a large “photo-realistic” and “high-fidelity” environment. Then Mavericks is opening up its doors to 1,000 players at a time in its persistent world, thanks to SpatialOS’ tech.
“We’ve combined a number of new and proven additions that drastically expand on what you’ve seen from the last generation of games,” the studio said, ‘including character progression, deep narrative, intelligent mission systems, social hubs, and a huge world rich in content.”
The team hasn’t started doing dev diaries yet, but it HAS created a dev diary for the upcoming dev diaries, which you can watch after the break and then feel generally fulfilled about your life.
One small title that we’ve been following for a few years now is Forsaken Legends, a procedural sandbox that seemed to package a bunch of creative ideas while being whipped together by a very small team. However, the game got downgraded from an MMO last year and pretty much went into hiatus as the team members had to work on other projects to pay the bills.
The interesting news this month is word that the team was able to bring back on board one of its former devs and is revving back up into full development. Even more interesting is that there was mention of the game adopting SpatialOS to enable Forsaken Legends to graduate back into the realm of a persistent world MMO.
“We’re going to be able to go back to our original game ideas we had for Forsaken Legends,” the team said. “And as long as everything pans out, we’re going to be able to have that massive, endless, persistent world, procedurally generated with tons of content.”
To generate revenue and try out techniques to use in the MMO, the team is first creating a simpler zombie survival game as a “test bed.”
Let us make an already interesting MMO news day a bit more so, shall we? How about the introduction of a brand-new, full-fledged MMORPG in development with AAA credentials and some notable game industry vets at the helm?
The game in question is code-named Project C, a sci-fi MMO that takes place on a single-shard hostile world. It sounds incredibly intriguing and not afraid of to embrace the massively multiplayer experience:
Project C invites the players to explore, conquer and dominate a massive hostile persistent sci-fi world. The game offers players genuine innovation in game design with emphasis on emergent memorable gameplay moments: a single-shard virtual world, continuously updated with new chapters of the game’s story, containing a fully simulated ecosystem of creatures and resources, in which player choices create permanent changes.
If the recent silence in Fractured’s neck of the woods has troubled you, just remember that sometimes quiet can mean good as well as bad. In this case, the team said that it has some pretty big reveals in the works, but fans will have to be patient for all of the details.
The first is word that the sandbox MMO is about to land some much-needed funding: “I’m incredibly happy to announce that, after long negotiations, we’re about to hit a major milestone in securing funding for Fractured. By ‘about to,’ I mean we’re actually only a few days away! While I can’t say more on this at the moment, we’ll officially disclose everything to you and to the press really soon — on the 13th of March, if all goes as planned.”
The team also said that it is working on a blog post that will tackle Fractured’s vision for PvP and a video to show off group PvE action in the title’s SpatialOS engine.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Conqueror’s Blade, MapleStory Blitz, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, Skyforge, Path of Exile, Armored Warfare Assault, Aura Kingdom, and MechWarrior Online, all waiting for you after the break!